Awhile back I did a series called “Peace in the Valley.” I took texts that addressed doubt, failure, disappointment, and loneliness in order to provide some “pastoral care” through the messages to people who I may not have a chance to meet with one-on-one. One of the messages was on loneliness and covered some verses in John 16. As I was reading through John 16 and reflecting upon what the text has to say about loneliness, I was struck by how I deal with loneliness more than I realized! Don’t get me wrong, I know I have people in my life who are there for me and I don’t feel all alone all of the time. But I do struggle with feeling lonely sometimes. And it isn’t my wife’s fault of the fault of my children. It’s just something that I think I’ve probably always struggled with. You see, I’m a paradox of sorts. On one hand, I’m a “people person” and on the other, I’m also very internal based with my feelings. So I have a lot of “friends” but have struggled to have close friends. And please do not send me an email or a facebook message telling me that you will be my close friend. That will simply annoy me and will not solve my problem and will probably just drive me further away from being either your “close friend” or your “friend” in the general sense! Okay, sorry… a little rant there.
Anyway, as I was thinking about my struggle with sometimes feeling alone, I was encouraged by an internal reality that I have been experiencing for a number of years now – the work of the Spirit! You see, I’m not content with feeling alone or being alone. I’m not content with being unhappy. These, in my mind, are indications that I’m not trusting and loving God as I should be or that I have not come to understand the character and splendor of God that is true. In fact, I constantly find myself battling feelings of loneliness or doubt or depression or disappointment or feelings of failure.
And the most amazing thing about this constant battle is that it is not a product of myself. No, if left alone, I would continue to feel all alone and would become one of those happily unhappy people. But I’m not. I’m not content unless I’m happy! I’m not content unless I’m trusting and treasuring Christ!
Why is that? Let me tell you. Battling loneliness and depression and disappointment and failure and any other emotional or psychological struggle is evidence that the Holy Spirit is at work in my life. Jesus made mention of this when He promised the Helper for His followers. In fact, after making mention of the Helper, the Spirit, Jesus mentioned that He had informed His followers of both the person of the Holy Spirit and His work in order that “you may have peace” (John 16:33).
Be encouraged. If you struggle and battle against anything that is contrary to who you are in Christ, the Spirit is at work! Praise the Lord!
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.